i think Paul is the best rival for Ash. Gary is my fav but he didn't seem as much as a rival as Paul is, but i do think that Gary is the strongest and most strategic rival Ash has had.
Sinnoh wins with rivals.
The Ash/Trip rivalry was practically abandoned after their third battle. In their 4th battle, Ash was no more than an obstacle standing in Trip's path to Alder and there 5th was a joke.
Ash/Bianca was ditched at the league in favor of Cameron
Ash/Stephan was decent at best.
Georgia/Iris needs closure
Cilan/Burgundy went nowhere and needs closure
If you rooted for Dawn during A Grand Fight For Winning even though you knew she'd lose, then copy and paste this in your signature.
Zoey and Paul are the best rivals ever!
Conway, Ursula, Nando, Barry were okay. Kenny was boring.
Never liked Trip at all.
Do you guys want to know why? Trip was just a trainer who just started on his journey and already at the start, he insults Ash, makes him look like a fool, and doesn't take him seriously despite the fact that Ash has been to 4 regions and 5 leagues at this point and to make Ash like a retard after defeating 2 legendaries in Sinnoh was a huge disappointment.
Not only that, there was just not enough development IMO. Trip and Ash had the same goal, to beat Alder, but then again, Ash's goal is always to beat somebody strong. Admittedly, Trip knowing Alder and admiring him as a kid is nice and him seeing him as a clown when he aged is also nice, but other than that, Ash has no real purpose to beat Trip. He's simply an obstacle in winning the Unova League and fighting Alder. That's basically it.
And what's worse? They shoved Trip out of the way at the start of the Unova League and to me, it was clear Trip was nothing more than an obstacle.
Paul was certainly the better rival. He was more developed and they each were more inclined to beat each other than Ash was to Trip.
Eh...to me Sinnoh had the best rivals. Paul was such a jerk at first to Ash and the fact that Ash kept losing to him frustrated me to death. I can only imagine how Ash must have felt and Barry was Hilarious, one of my
favorite pokemon characters to date. Dawn's rivalry with Ursula and Zoey was cool. I liked Ursula though she was pretty funny while Zoey was headstrong and kind of mentor to Dawn. This is all my opinion of course.
I'm also on Team Sinnoh as far as Ash is concerned, but I think May's Hoenn contest rivals set a gold standard the show hasn't surpassed yet. Paul was the best single rival. The big problem with the rivals this saga is that they all appeared en masse for several episodes at a time and too rarely as individuals. The few times they did get an episode to themselves they were handled just fine. Having them all enter the tournaments together was a good idea, but we didn't see them battle enough outside of those tournaments. I like the set-up and it was nice to have quite a few different rivals, but none of them shone as individual characters and won't really be missed, which is telling considering how Gary, Paul, Drew and Harley are still beloved by most of the fandom years after their last appearances.
I dunno how I feel about the Unova rivals, which is to say I didn't really like them, mostly because they never really got expanded on as characters. They all fell into one of two categories:
2) Satellite Characters.
The people in group 1 were Trip, Stephan, and Bianca (and then Cameron). Their whole characters were defined by one insufferable quirk. Trip was a non-abusive Paul who loved the word "boonies" and is seriously butthurt ALL THE TIME for no real reason because Alder is laid back and not a panic attack waiting to happen. Everyone got Stephan's name wrong, and that's all there is to say about him. Bianca is clumsy and knocks Ash into water every time they meet. Umm...congrats? As for Cameron, he is my most LOATHED character archetype. He is the "lolrandom" character who everyone loves for his affable stupidity, or rather, DESPITE his affable stupidity. Yet despite the fact he is incapable of breathing without help, he always succeeds at anything he does. I...just...no.
The people in group 2 were Burgundy and Georgia. Both of whom, you may notice, are the rivals of the "companion" characters Iris and Cilan. Their whole personality, their whole character, is defined by their rivalry with a protagonist. They literally revolve around the main character (Satellite Characters, ho!) and do nothing else. Cilan comes off as eccentric and a bit show-offy at times. Burgundy's sole reason for existing is to show that Cilan is so "down to earth" and not a show off with his connoisseur abilities; how could he when the only other connoisseur we see is that crazy-dame Burgundy? Georgia's characterization, likewise, revolves around her rivalry with Iris.
I'm hesitant to say I dislike their characters, but only on the grounds that there is no character for me to base such assumptions off of. They all had potential, but they all fell into ruts rather quickly.
I'm going to have to jump on the Sinnoh rivals bandwagon, sorry to say. They were interesting characters that didn't revolve around a single forced joke and existed outside of the realm of Ash and Co.
I reckon Paul was the best rival out of them all. He grew quite a lot in the DP series. Although he was very cocky early on, in Sinnoh League Victors, he became more humble.
The number of rivals for Unova was promising, but the Sinnoh rivalries were a-lot more entertaining in the end.